Former Reagan Justice Department attorney and radio talk show host Mark Levin argued this week that previous DOJ legal opinion memos make it unequivocally clear that a sitting president cannot be indicted for a crime.
While appearing as a guest on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Thursday, Levin advised the president’s legal team, based on these memos, not to submit to any subpoena special counsel Robert Mueller may seek to enforce, contending the prosecutor has no right to do so.
Levin — who served chief in staff for Attorney General Edwin Meese — stated the DOJ has already addressed the issue definitively in two legal memoranda, first in 1973, during Richard Nixon’s presidency, and again in 2000, while Bill Clinton was in office.
The conclusion in both instances was the same: “Grand juries and prosecutors cannot supplant Congress. The only way to remove a sitting president is through the impeachment process, not through the indictment process.”
“This is not me, this is the Department of Justice speaking,” Levin told host Sean Hannity, while holding up a copy of one of the DOJ legal opinion memos. “Special prosecutors cannot supplant Congress.”
The conservative commentator said Trump’s legal team should use the memos to directly question Mueller as to why he thinks he can threaten to subpoena the president.
“I would say if I were the president’s lawyer to Mr. Mueller, ‘We want you to present us with an explanation of your defiance of the Department of Justice policy which you are required to follow as an employee of the Department of Justice,'” Levin said.
“Moreover, we want to understand how it is that you believe that you can burden a president like this while he’s in office,” he added.
Practically speaking, Levin contended that presidents, due to the burden of their office, lack the ability to devote the time needed to wage an effective legal defense.
He also took the special counsel to task for the subject matter of the questions he reportedly wants to ask Trump.
“When you look at those 49 areas (of) questions, there is not a single criminal statute,” Levin said. “There is not a single obstruction.”
He wondered in what way Trump is obstructing justice or trying to block the Mueller team.
“(T)hey want to treat him like they treated Martha Stewart,” Levin said of the businesswoman and television and personality, who was jailed for obstruction and making false statements to federal investigators. “Well, guess what, he’s the president, Mr. Mueller.”
The former DOJ attorney advised Trump to take it all the way to the highest court in the land rather than submit to a subpoena by the special counsel.
“I would make Mueller and his band of Democrat prosecutors make their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court if they try to subpoena him in any way to appear before a federal grand jury,” Levin said, “and make them make their case against their own Department of Justice, against Supreme Court precedent and against the Constitution of the United States.”
Liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz has also advised Trump not to submit to in-person questioning by Mueller’s team.
“I think he’d be in a better position challenging this legally than sitting down with the special counsel and answering that list of 40-some-odd questions that are so open-ended, so vague and so, so general,” Dershowitz said Wednesday on Fox News, explaining an in-person interview would be a “perjury trap.”
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